By Nina Somera, Isis International

With the failure of the 15th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to reach a responsive deal, civil society organisations are now preparing to strategise for COP 16 that will take place in Mexico this year.

Moreover, CSOs are taking account of the learnings in Copenhagen and building on the positive developments in COP 15. Aside from producing the paltry Copenhagen Accord that hardly responded to calls on historical responsibilities nor committed substantial greenhouse gas emissions, COP 15 saw the severe restriction of civil society participation. It was highlighted by brutal police crackdowns on peaceful mobilizations and arrest of dozens of activists. Prior to this, it was marked by leaked disturbing documents and weakened stance of some governments such as Ethiopia and the Philippines.

Nonetheless COP 15 has reenergised CSOs that managed to stage one of the largest mobilisations in recent years and somehow found allies in some open governments.

As Lyda Moreno of Allianza Social Continental asserted, “Our spirit is renewed whenever we cry for environmental justice, when we oppose the [neoliberal] model. One lesson in mobilisation is persistence. They [Danish authorities] were afraid of us because we were not afraid. We are also seeing the rise of friendlier governments and alternatives on the table.” Copenhagen was not a simple invitation. It was supposed to build a movement to Mexico,” she added.

Author Naomi Klein likewise similarly lamented the restrictions at the Bella Centre, the official venue of COP 15 especially on the second week of the talks. “The discourse has been taken by technocrats. What the movement did was a lot of popular education. We need to do the same towards Mexico. We want to keep it direct. We want to keep it at commonsense.”

Klein also highlighted environmental racism, which is palpable in the outcome of COP 16 and whose implications have to be kept “alive in the North.” “If Australia were on the verge of sinking, do you think this will happen? Similarly, New Orleans would not have happened if it were not an African-American city. There is racism in the [pressure] that the South must adapt.”

Like Moreno, cited the increasing openness of progressive voices among official parties. Among them were Angelica Navarro of Bolivia and Lumumba D’Aping of Sudan.

Plans for COP 16 include the creation of a common calendar, conduct of people’s tribunals and a campaign for an environmental criminal court.

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